Young University Rankings 2021: the ages of resilience

Young universities tout their agility while older ones trumpet their resources. The pandemic has tested both types, and that could herald a turning point

June 23, 2021
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Young universities are flexible and innovative

View the THE Young University Rankings 2021 results


The Covid-19 pandemic has been unsparing in its impact, but it has affected different groups in varying ways. And a key factor has been age.

Older generations are, on average, more likely to become seriously ill after contracting the coronavirus, and consequently, they have been among the first to receive doses of the Covid vaccines.

Meanwhile, experts and the media have depicted young people as among the worst-affected in terms of the economic and social impact of the pandemic, with online learning and the challenging job market taking its toll on their mental health and well-being.

But are there differences in the way that older and younger universities have been affected by the crisis?

In many ways, higher education institutions across the globe, like populations, have faced the same challenges in the shift to remote working, student applications and enrolment and levels of funding.

But leaders of young universities suggest that there have been some differences, too. In our analysis, we explore whether the flexibility and innovation of younger universities means they have adapted better to the pandemic, or whether older institutions’ higher levels of funding and prestige make them better placed to withstand the effects of the crisis.


Download a free copy of the Young University Rankings 2021 digital supplement


A similar tension is borne out in the data behind our rankings. A comparison of the performance of young and established institutions in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings between 2018 and 2021 shows that newer universities have generally been improving at a faster rate than their older counterparts at both metric and subject level. However, established universities are making more progress, on average, on their levels of income – a factor that is likely to be increasingly important during the global pandemic-related recession.

For those leaders looking to chart a new course for their institution in the wake of Covid-19, or to establish a new university entirely, experts in the US and the UK suggest the potential models to consider and what the sector can learn from the great expansion of global campuses in the 1960s, while the president of the 45-year-old Maastricht University explains how his institution has found success in such a short space of time.

As David Staley, associate professor of history at Ohio State University, writes in one of these pieces: “Perhaps we are just at the start of a new historical moment when educational visionaries will establish a cluster of new, daring, creative, alternative universities.”

If that’s the case, we look forward to featuring these post-pandemic institutions in future editions of the Young University Rankings.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com


Countries/regions represented in the THE Young University Rankings 2021

Country/region

Number of institutions

Top institution

Rank

United Kingdom

37

Brighton and Sussex Medical School

44

India

34

Indian Institute of Technology Ropar

=63

Spain

33

Pompeu Fabra University

15

Turkey

31

Koç University

=83

France

27

Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris

2

Iran

26

Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences

=50

Australia

23

University of Technology Sydney

9

Japan

17

University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Japan

82

Taiwan

17

National Yang-Ming University

=83

Italy

16

Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies – Pisa

7

Egypt

15

Aswan University

=117

Brazil

12

São Paulo State University (UNESP)

201–250

Chile

12

Diego Portales University

=108

Malaysia

12

Universiti Teknologi Petronas

134

Pakistan

10

Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan

=157

Germany

9

University of Duisburg-Essen

18

Algeria

8

Ferhat Abbas Sétif University 1

=132

China

8

Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech)

26

Portugal

8

NOVA University of Lisbon

66

Saudi Arabia

7

Alfaisal University

36

South Korea

7

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

4

Czech Republic

6

University of South Bohemia in Cˇeské Budeˇjovice

251–300

Tunisia

6

University of Tunis El Manar

301–350

South Africa

5

University of KwaZulu-Natal

61

United Arab Emirates

5

United Arab Emirates University

53

Austria

4

Medical University of Innsbruck

19

Greece

4

University of Crete

79

Hong Kong

4

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

3

Jordan

4

Jordan University of Science and Technology

=90

Morocco

4

Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University

201–250

Republic of Ireland

4

Maynooth University

88

Russian Federation

4

HSE University

=57

Sweden

4

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

60

United States

4

George Mason University

41

Canada

3

Concordia University

=149

Cyprus

3

Cyprus University of Technology

=54

Israel

3

University of Haifa

=165

Thailand

3

Mae Fah Luang University

201–250

Belgium

2

University of Antwerp

11

Denmark

2

Aalborg University

25

Finland

2

Aalto University

28

Macao

2

Macau University of Science and Technology

32

Nigeria

2

Lagos State University

=149

Vietnam

2

Vietnam National University, Hanoi

251–300

Note: excludes countries with only one ranked institution

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To ensure that more recently established universities are measured fairly for the Young University Rankings 2021, we have made some modifications to our world rankings methodology, as we explain here

16 June

Reader's comments (1)

Why is Singapore not mentioned? I don’t see #1 Young University mentioned. Nanyang Technological University in case anyone wants the info. You’re welcome.

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